Symantec boosts VMware with high availability and storage optimization

Symantec ApplicationHA and VirtualStore are expected to help VMware users confidently virtualize their business-critical applications and minimize storage costs

This week Symantec unveiled two products developed under joint partnership with VMware. Symantec launched ApplicationHA for high availability of applications in a virtual environment, and VirtualStore, a software-based network-attached storage (NAS) solution designed to help customers efficiently provision virtual servers and desktops.

Symantec said these two new solutions would provide customers with the ability to confidently virtualize their business-critical applications and minimize storage costs on the VMware platform.

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Symantec ApplicationHA

Symantec's latest offering is directed at "the last mile" problem with virtualizing applications. This is very similar to what others have been calling VM stall, where virtualization customers are hitting a glass ceiling around the 30 percent mark of being totally virtualized in the data center. These organizations have typically completed virtualizing the "low-hanging fruit" or non-mission-critical applications such as Web, print, and file servers, but then hit a brick wall when it comes to virtualizing mission-critical applications because of trust issues or a general lack of confidence, usually from the business unit or the application owner. 

According to an October 2009 IDC study, 51 percent of respondents said ensuring application availability was a key challenge in managing virtualized servers. This has been attributed to the fact that customers are having issues with applications failing inside the guest of the virtual machine due to the lack of a high-availability solution to properly protect the applications. That's where ApplicationHA comes in.

Built on the company's Veritas Cluster Server technology, ApplicationHA automates application high availability and data recovery by providing visibility, control, and integration with VMware vCenter and VMware High Availability (HA). It also monitors application health status, detects for failures within the virtual machine, restarts failed applications, and coordinates with VMware HA to restart a virtual machine when needed. 

But don't assume Symantec's new technology is a replacement for VMware HA. Instead it should be seen as a complementary technology. While VMware HA focuses its high availability attention on physical server failures and making sure the virtual machine stays running, Symantec ApplicationHA does the same thing but at the application layer. The two technologies complement each other very well, and Symantec provides an additional layer of availability and confidence to the virtualization stack.

At the time of launch, Symantec said ApplicationHA would provide support for a number of different business-critical application workloads, including Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft IIS, Oracle, and SAP, and said it was fully compatible with VMware vMotion and VMware Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS).

Symantec VirtualStore

Symantec VirtualStore is based on Symantec's Veritas Storage Foundation technology and is said to address the storage challenges that organizations face within their virtual infrastructures. Specifically, Symantec says it will provide VMware environments with reduced storage costs, improved performance, and better management.

VirtualStore is a scalable, high-performance clustered NAS solution that runs on Solaris, Solaris x86, or Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5. It supports major storage platforms on the back end to enable commodity or multiple vendor storage strategies, and it supports storage solutions from vendors such as 3PAR, EMC, Fujitsu, Hitachi, HP, IBM, and NetApp. Being able to repurpose existing storage investments or use inexpensive or commodity storage can help an organization dramatically reduce their cost per virtual machine.

IT organizations can also drive down costs by taking advantage of thin provisioning (not having to pre-allocate storage for an application before it is needed), storage tiering, and space-optimized snapshots (only capturing iterations of the original VM/virtual desktop image). 

VirtualStore is also integrated with VMware vCenter Server, and therefore provides VMware administrators with a storage management view from within vCenter itself and eliminating, according to Symantec, the need for additional management tools.

Symantec said that it can also help manage virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environments more efficiently.  The VirtualStore FileSnap feature lets administrators easily clone and provision thousands of virtual machines in minutes through its VMware vCenter Server integration.  And by leveraging the company's patented page caching optimization technology, VirtualStore can also eliminate performance bottlenecks that are created when multiple users simultaneously boot up their virtual machines in a VDI environment, a problem commonly known as "Bootstorm."

Symantec's ApplicationHA will be launched at VMworld 2010, and it will carry a list price of $350 per virtual machine. Symantec VirtualStore, on the other hand, will become available sometime in the fourth quarter of this year and is expected to have a per-server pricing model. Both products support Windows, VMware, and Linux.

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